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Federal Court ruling on CGL covering a data breach

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On Monday a Federal appeals court in Virginia upheld a lower federal court ruling that held a Commercial General Liability (CGL) may in fact cover a data breach.  The legal battle involves the Personal Injury insuring agreement and the coverage under the Personal Injury coverage part is often ambiguous. 

In the underlying case, The Travelers Indemnity Company of America was required to provide a defense for its insured, Portal Healthcare Solutions, LLC, for an underlying data breach class action filed against Portal by customers whose private medical information was posted on the intranet. 

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New tactic introduced to battle opioid crisis but comes with complications

pills 2The opioid crisis that exploded at the end of 2015 is making headlines again as we close out the first month of 2016. During Charlie Baker’s State of the State address on Thursday, January 21st, he noted that the opioid crises was “terrifying” and that four people die every day in Massachusetts due to opioid overdoses.  Many of these opioid addictions are linked to the overprescribing of the drug and lackadaisical manner of follow-up to prescription taking. Governor Baker pushed for a 72 hour prescription cap that would allow doctors to closely monitor the ingestion of the drug. Similarly, a new tactic for battling the epidemic has been made public; an implant used to fight the addiction of opioids. Read more…

Insurance industry looks to address opioid epidemic

opioidsThe opioid crisis is very present in the mainstream news these days. One can read the tragic stories of heroin addiction and the easy access to opiates, and the ensuing statistics are staggering. This is a truly an epidemic of our times.

Opioids have been the topic of conversation within the insurance industry for a long while now as well. Those within the medical claims industry have been aware of the severity of the opioid overdoses for some time, but there have been some recent events that have heightened the focus on this issue. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s preliminary statistics indicate that the number of deaths in the state directly linked to opioid overdose for 2015  is over 750, and is therefore  high enough for officials to regard the issue as a public health crisis. The state estimates that the number of deaths so far in 2015 appear to be higher than last year during the same time period. Read more…

The importance of workplace and personal safety programs

police_tapeThis week’s tragic shooting in Roanoke, Virginia evokes many emotions and serves as a reminder of the importance of workplace and personal safety. As people were starting their day, many witnessed the shooting on live television of WDJB-TV reporter Alison Parker, and photographer Adam Ward by a former employee of the station who was fired in 2013. Unfortunately, workplace violence is a much more common occurrence than you may think. The Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries’ most recent statistics show that there were 518 workplace homicides in 2010, with shootings accounting for 405 of them. In regards to nonfatal violent crimes in the workplace, the National Crime Victimization Survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, published in 2011, reported a total of 572,000 incidents in 2009 alone.  Read more…

Court approves Vascepa® for off-label use despite pushback from FDA

pill_bottlesOn Friday August 7th, the Southern District Court of New York permitted Amarin Pharma to promote certain off-label uses of its 2012 FDA-approved drug, Vascepa®. The FDA has made it known that promoting uses of drugs that are not on FDA-approved labeling violates the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). This means that a manufacturer can promote its drug for its approved intended use, but a true and non-misleading promotion of an off-label use is considered misbranding. Doing so is prohibited conduct, and could result in penalties and criminal prosecution. Read more…

The legal issues surrounding the independent contractor business model

legal_independent_contractorsThe on demand economy, which consists primarily of tech startups, allows consumers to conveniently purchase goods and services via an app on their computers, tablets, and smartphones. In addition to being one of the fastest growing types of commerce, delivery speeds are lightning fast due to a large pool of contract workers who are available to provide goods and services around the clock. These workers are flexible enough to numerous jobs per day as a primary source of income, or a few per week as a secondary source. They are classified under most state laws as independent contractors rather than employees, and are able to decide when and where they perform work for these online or app-based companies.
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Largest privacy breach payment to date since HIPAA enforcement in 2003

stethoscope_computerCapping off a three year inquiry into a data breach of thousands of patient health records, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) ordered New York Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) and Columbia University (CU) to pay $4.8 million in settlement fees earlier this month. This marks the largest payment for a privacy breach to date since the enforcement of HIPAA’s Privacy Rule took effect in 2003.

NYP and CU operate Columbia University Medical Center under a joint venture, and operate a shared data network and network firewall that is overseen by employees at both organizations. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the shared network connects to NYP patient data systems that contain electronic protected health information (ePHI). The breach occurred in September 2010, when a physician at Columbia University deactivated a PC server on the network that contained ePH. Due to inefficient data protection on the server, nearly 7,000 patient records, which contained information such as vital signs, medications, lab results and other status reports became accessible on internet search engines. Hospital representatives claimed they had no knowledge of the breach until the partner of a deceased patient discovered ePHI on the internet and notified hospital officials. Read more…